It’s been a longer wait than expected but Hugh Bowman is excited to finally reunite with Lion Tamer in Saturday’s Cox Plate.
Bowman, who won the Victoria Derby last spring on the New Zealand stayer, has had to watch the four-year-old’s three spring outings from afar but jumps back aboard for the big occasion in Saturday’s weight-for-age championship.
The jockey is chasing a first win in one of Australian racing’s big four races – the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Golden Slipper.
His best results have been a second on Roman Emperor in the 2009 Caulfield Cup and third on Meurice in the 2007 Golden Slipper.
“I am looking forward to getting back on Lion Tamer,” Bowman said.
“I’ll be there for the big ones.”
Lion Tamer missed the autumn carnival and returned this spring with an encouraging fourth in a Group One 1400m contest in New Zealand in late August.
Bowman was committed to riding in Sydney when Michael Rodd guided the kiwi to victory in the Group One Underwood Stakes (1800m) second-up.
He was supposed to ride him in the Caulfield Stakes (2000m) last start but a careless riding suspension ruled him out as the entire turned in a performance to forget, finishing down the track in his final Cox Plate lead-up.
The top Sydney-based jockey had flown to Melbourne to partner Lion Tamer in trackwork on the Thursday before the Caulfield Stakes and wasn’t too concerned with his last start flop.
“I think he left it all on the track, but he’ll be right,” Bowman said.
“He’s still in the market so that’s a good sign for me.”
Lion Tamer is on the third line of Cox Plate betting behind three-year-old Helmet and New Zealand Horse of the Year Jimmy Choux.
The Murray Baker-trained Lion Tamer will have a hit-out at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning with Bowman to spend the week in Melbourne preparing for Cox Plate day.
“I go to Melbourne on Monday and ride Torio’s Quest in a trial at Cranbourne on Monday afternoon,” he said.
“I ride at Geelong on Wednesday and stay there to ride in the Cox Plate on Saturday.
“I’ll be at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning for Breakfast with the Stars and I’ll work Lion Tamer there and probably also work a couple of Chris Waller’s horses.”
Lion Tamer will also have a significant gear change in the Cox Plate.
“He’ll have blinkers on for the Cox Plate. They went on for the AAMI Vase last year and turned him around so I expect the same result,” Bowman said.
Bowman has ridden Lion Tamer three times for two wins and a second.
He was aboard when Lion Tamer won his Australian debut in the Listed Ming Dynasty (1400m) last spring then Glyn Schofield guided the colt to seventh in the Gloaming Stakes (1800m) and fifth in the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).
Bowman got back aboard in the AAMI Vase where Lion Tamer finished second to Rekindled Interest before storming to a 6-1/2-length win in the Victoria Derby.